Dragon’s Tooth

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Dragon’s Tooth is a unique geologic feature that consists of Tuscarora quartzite spires which outcrop on the top of Cove Mountain. The tallest “tooth” projects roughly 35 feet above the surrounding rock. The trail to Dragon’s Tooth ascends steep, rugged outcrops of quartzite which form the spine of Cove Mountain and North Mountain. The spine is known as Dragon’s Back.

Note: The Dragon’s Tooth hike is one of the most popular hikes along the entire Appalachian Trail and sees a tremendous amount of hiker traffic. The trailhead parking lot (Rt. 311) has limited space; DO NOT PARK on Rt. 311 – YOU WILL BE TOWED. It is ideal to hike this on a weekday as weekends are very crowded. Vehicles not parked in the parking lot are subject to tow. Please read specific rules and regulations at the bottom of this description.

Hike Description

  • ~ 4.5 mile round trip, out and back hike.
  • Moderate to difficult.
  • 20 minutes from downtown Roanoke.
  • Map kiosk at trailhead (very straight forward hike). Take a picture of the map so you have it on your phone.
  • The trail starts with a kiosk at the back of the parking lot. You will follow the blue-blazed trail to the very top.
  • Go 0.25 mile and cross two small bridges.
  • You’ll see the intersecting yellow-blazed Boy Scout Connector Trail. Bear right and continue on the blue-blazed trail.
  • Continue for nearly 1.5 miles, crossing the creek several times on a steady incline before reaching the Appalachian Trail intersection.
  • Turn right to go south on the white-blazed Appalachian Trail. There will be 0.7 miles of steep rock steps before bearing left at the intersection to follow the blue-blazed trail to Dragon’s Tooth.
  • Come back the way you went up, or once you reach the Appalachian Trail, go beyond the blue-blazed trail you started on and continue north on the A.T. until you reach the yellow-blazed Boy Scout Connector Trail. You’ll go left on this trail until you reach the blue-blazed Dragon’s Tooth Spur Trail, and go right toward the parking lot. This second route back offers different scenic views.

Directions to Trail Head

  • From Roanoke – take I-81 south to Exit 141. Turn left at the traffic light onto Rt. 419 (Electric Rd.) and follow 0.4 miles to next traffic light (Rt. 311). Turn right onto Rt. 311N and follow for 10 miles. Dragon’s Tooth parking lot is on left just past Catawba Grocery.

Rules & Regulations

  • Max. group size for day hikes is 25 people.
  • Max. group size for backpacking/camping is 10 people.
  • No alcohol
  • Bring lots of drinking water
  • Bring a flashlight as groups often lose track of time and are hiking back in the dark
  • Dogs must be on leash at all times (be aware there is a section where you will have to lift your dog up a 6′ wall)
  • No camping or campfires on Dragon’s Tooth, McAfee Knob or Tinker Cliffs
  • Practice Leave No Trace
  • Pack out all trash
  • No camping or campfires outside of the 7 designated shelters/camping areas.
  • Visit local A.T. C. Club for more details.

Add On

  • Finish your day with a great meal at the Home Place – a restaurant famous among thru hikers. To reach the Home Place, continue north on Rt. 311 for ~1 mile to a large white farmhouse on left.
  • Grab a beer at Parkway Brewing Co.
  • Go see a baseball game! Click here for Salem Red Sox schedule
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